However, Pippen wasn’t always labeled as the best teammate, and that narrative grew even more after The Last Dance docuseries came out in 2020. One of Pippen’s former teammates, though, believes the Bulls icon was a great veteran for young guys to learn from.
Jamal Crawford spoke highly of Scottie Pippen
Pippen played in 23 games with the Bulls during the 2003-04 season. Three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford was in his fourth year with the team and saw Pippen give great advice to the youngsters.
“I played with Scottie in his final season with the Bulls in 2003 and what I learned was just his knowledge, know-how, and him always thinking the game,” Crawford told NBA scribe Landon Buford. “I think he was great for the younger guys coming up because he would always tell us what he saw. He would teach players how to read different situations and his work ethic. So, those are the main stories with him, but he was a great teacher for the young guys, and it really helped progress a lot of the young guys in our careers.”
Pippen may have been a good veteran teammate in 2003-04, but it’s impossible to ignore what he did during his prime with the Bulls that made people label him as a bad teammate.
Scottie Pippen didn’t go into a playoff game and delayed surgery on purpose
In Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Pippen didn’t go into the contest on the final possession after Bulls head coach Phil Jackson drew up a game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc instead of him. The Bulls legend felt insulted that Jackson wanted Kukoc to take the shot over him when he was the most dangerous weapon on the team.
Another stain on Pippen’s image is when he delayed his surgery on purpose in 1997-98. He could have undergone his ruptured tendon surgery in the summer of 1997, but the small forward had it done during the season as his way of thumbing his nose at management for not extending his contract.
Michael Jordan called Pippen “selfish” in The Last Dance docuseries for how he acted in 1997-98. The latter retaliated by calling the former selfish for playing baseball in 1993-94 during an interview with Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show.
Pippen never punched a teammate as Jordan did. However, MJ doesn’t get the bad teammate label since he never refused to go into a game and didn’t delay a surgical operation on purpose. Those are two events Pippen may never overcome in a historical sense.
His new book will likely be polarizing
Pippen’s memoir, Unguarded, comes out in November 2021. The six-time champion will give his honest take on what it was really like playing with Jordan and Dennis Rodman and being coached by Jackson.
One of the descriptions of the book has Pippen labeled as the real leader of the Bulls. This memoir will surely raise a lot of eyebrows, and it could have some polarizing stories about Jordan and Jackson.
Crawford has good memories of Pippen as a teammate. However, that came at the end of the latter’s career. We can call Pippen one of the greatest players of all time while also establishing that he did several questionable things during his career.